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Home Improvement- Your Guide To Remodeling Your Kitchen On A Budget

January 23, 2014

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homeimprovement-1Do you want to remodel your kitchen? Are you on a budget and want to get the most bang for your buck when it comes to your kitchen remodel? When it comes to remodeling your kitchen on a budget, the following article will help you make wise decisions.

Kitchen Cabinets

Many people want new cabinets in their kitchen; however, when they begin shopping for new cabinets, they realize how expensive replacing kitchen cabinets truly are. If you do not want to have the expense of replacing your kitchen cabinets, you may want to consider having your cabinets refaced. If you want to change the look of your kitchen without replacing the entire cabinet, this is a perfect option. If your cabinet is in good condition, you can change the look by simply changing out the cabinet doors. This costs less than a third of the price of new cabinets.

Cabinet Hardware

Changing out your cabinet drawer handles and pulls can instantly update any kitchen. This is one of the least expensive things you can do to update your kitchen. When it comes to drawer pulls and handles, there are many options. From antique wrought iron to contemporary brushed nickel, you can find the handles you are looking for at your local home improvement store.

Kitchen Countertops

When it comes to kitchen countertops, there are many choices. Laminate countertops and butcher block countertops are the least expensive, while solid marble and granite countertops are the most expensive. When it comes to countertops, carefully consider how much you want to spend before going shopping.

 

Flooring Options

There is a myriad of options when it comes to kitchen flooring. There are linoleum flooring, ceramic tile flooring, hardwood carpeting, marble and flooring flooring. Each of these has disadvantages and advantages; so, it is important to choose carefully.

Lighting Options

When it comes to lighting for your kitchen, you need an overhead light as well as task lighting. Task lighting illuminates your work areas, while an overhead light illuminates the room.

Appliances

You can choose from a variety of finishes when it comes to appliances. Today’s modern kitchens look beautiful with professional grade stainless steel appliances. If you do not want stainless steel appliances, there are numerous colors to choose from including red, green, blue, white, black and almond.

Plumbing Fixtures

Whether you want a contemporary kitchen or a traditional kitchen, you can find the plumbing fixtures you desire. There are standard chrome faucets and sinks, farmhouse inspired sinks and the faucets that come on with a simple touch of the hand. Additionally, if your family enjoys cooking, you may benefit from a vegetable sink in addition to a kitchen sink.

The kitchen is often known as the center of the home. Families spend a lot of time in this room, so it needs to be up-to-date. Remodeling a kitchen can be quite expensive; however, by following the techniques listed above, you can remodel your kitchen without breaking the bank.

Many people want new cabinets in their kitchen; however, when they begin shopping for new cabinets, they realize how expensive replacing kitchen cabinets truly are. If you do not want to have the expense of replacing your kitchen cabinets, you may want to consider having your cabinets refaced. Changing out your cabinet drawer handles and pulls can instantly update any kitchen. Whether you want a contemporary kitchen or a traditional kitchen, you can find the plumbing fixtures you desire. Remodeling a kitchen can be quite expensive; however, by following the techniques listed above, you can remodel your kitchen without breaking the bank.

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Repaying Your Student Loan: 7 Essential Tips You Should Know

October 26, 2013

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If you borrowed money to finance your college education, you are in good company. According to data from FICO, the average student owes educational financiers $27,253; a figure which represents a 58% rise since 2005. The following tips will come in handy as you prepare to repay your student loan. […]

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Three Must-See Destinations in Augusta, Georgia

October 20, 2013

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Near the mouth of the Savannah River you will find Augusta, Georgia’s third-largest city. Bordering South Carolina and 136 feet above sea level, Augusta experiences hot, humid summers and mild winters with occasional freezes. Augusta was named in honor of Augusta Saxe Gotha. She was a princess of Wales born in the year 1736, the year in which Augusta was established. The city has since grown to a healthy population of over 500,000.

If you’re a golf fan, you know that Augusta hosts the famous Masters Tournament each year. But there’s more to this place than golf. History buffs flock to the Georgia area. In fact, the Historic District encompasses most of downtown, honoring Georgia’s pre-Civil War history and her role in the conflict. You will also find the boyhood home of Woodrow Wilson, a history museum, an art museum, and a cultural center.

Augusta Museum of History

augusta mesuem of historyAfter stopping by the Augusta Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau to get your bearings, I recommend heading off to the Augusta Museum of History. The place is dedicated to preserving and interpreting Augusta’s past.

They strive to enrich present and current generations by keeping Augusta’s history alive.  Inside, you will find exhibits on golf, local legends like James Brown and Ty Cobb, and of course everything about Augusta from Indians to the war in Vietnam.

Morris Museum of Art

Now that you have a feel for what Augusta is all about, head over to downtown’s Riverwalk, where you will find the first ever art museum dedicated to artists from the American South. Opening in 1992, the Morris Museum of Art now has an extensive permanent collection that includes paper, photographs, sculptures, and nearly 5,000 paintings. The museum hosts about nine special exhibitions each year, so you never know just what you’ll find!

Presbyterian Manse

Presbyterian ManseAfter a rich experience in the art world, it’s back to history at the Boyhood Home of President Woodrow Wilson. The 28th President of the United States (1913-1921), Wilson is known for being a leader of the Progressive Movement. World War I began during his second term. Wilson is also remembered for his statement Fourteen Points, his role in negotiating the Treaty of Versailles, and the organization of the League of Nations.

The charming, two-story house (Presbyterian Manse) serves to depict the life of Woodrow Wilson as a boy who grew up during the Civil War and following Reconstruction. The house is the oldest Presidential residence in Georgia and serves as both a historic attraction and an educational facility. Its white columns will invite you in and make you want to further explore Wilson’s boyhood history.

“Tommy” Wilson lived in the house from 1860-1870. While living there, he experienced the hardships of war, started his education, and became a devout Presbyterian. His experiences here would prepare him for his later responsibilities as President of the United States. Woodrow Wilson’s famous quote proves that he never forgot his roots: “The only place in the country, the only place in the world, where nothing has to be explained to me, is the South.”

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Augusta Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau: 1450 Greene Street, Suite 110

Augusta Museum of History: 560 Reynolds Street

The Morris Museum of Art: 1 10th Street

The Boyhood Home of President Woodrow Wilson: 419 7th Street

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Augusta’s Master Plan for Revitalization

October 14, 2013

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Lee Epstein, attorney and land use planner working for sustainability in the mid-Atlantic region, recently discussed Augusta’s master plan for revitalization, on the National Resource Defense Council (NRDC) Staff Blog. Below is a summary and highlight of the key points covered. 

augusta streets

The city of Augusta has many faces: some see the sweet green golf courses with fiendish sand traps, while others see it as their home, a heart of the South and third-largest city in the state.

Distressingly, the city has begun to lose its luster, in tune with many other great cities in the United States. These cities are fading due to a combination of empty downtown areas and an increase in suburban sprawl.

The neighborhoods could definitely do with some renovation. Not all is lost, however; the Augusta Sustainable Development Implementation Program has come up with intensive plans to revitalize this old Southern belle of a city.

The Augusta Sustainable Development Implementation Program (ASDIP) has paired up with the US Department of Housing and Urban Development to use one of their challenge grants to revitalize Augusta and its empty neighborhoods. The project’s main goal is to upgrade Augusta, injecting sustainable economic development, enhanced transportation, and improved neighborhoods to bring the city back to life. The program is focused on results, not just plans.

regency mallThey hope to work wonders on Downtown Augusta – ranging from the 4.5 mile long Dean’s Bridge Road, to the Regency Mall and through the neighborhoods near the rail yards. Like many malls in America, Regency Mall slowly faded and then died, becoming an abandoned relic. With the ASDIP program in place, it would become a village center, while the neighborhoods leading to the mall would offer the basic amenities needed to sustain a bustling community. These would include farmer’s markets, grocery stores, medical clinics, and small restaurants – all the ingredients needed to create a successful neighborhood. During the rebuilding process, they will also add some mixed-unit and higher density housing, though older neighborhoods will likely remain untouched.

Another large focus of the project would be transportation. Without accessibility, the revitalized sections would never flourish. Many elderly or mid-to-lower income residents don’t have cars or do not drive, so a renewed public transport system will be required to ferry them to the rejuvenated sections of Augusta. The program will also create better walking areas, with repaved sidewalks and more sitting areas in shady sections, as well as pedestrian walkways and crossing areas. Bike lanes will also be implemented and made safer.

The hub of the transport reform would be a new transit center to replace an old bus transfer station. At the same time, a nearby building will be rebuilt to become a pedestrian shopping and commercial village.

They hope to improve the number of parks and playgrounds, as well as renew previously existing ones. The program looks to acquire more land for public parks in strategic neighborhood locations, as well as improve storm water management and other green projects. The public areas would be enriched by public art and mixed-use centers for everyone, creating a welcoming, friendly neighborhood feeling.

Most impressively, this project has been meticulously planned for and articulated, with required costs enumerated and accounted for. Specific proposals have also been evaluated, together with potential funding sources – both public and private. The Augusta Sustainable Development Implementation Program members appear to have spared no effort to make this program successful, identifying all possible ways of fulfilling their plans for urban development as well as managing vacant housing. All in all, this project stands to be one of Augusta’s best chances for revitalization – restoring its former glory as well as propelling it towards the future.

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Five In-Demand Jobs that do not Require a College Degree

October 2, 2013

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In today’s society, you might think that a college degree is required in order to land a great job. But college just isn’t in the cards for some of us. We don’t have the time, the money, or the mindset. If you are one of these people, don’t lose hope! There are plenty of great jobs out there that do not require a college degree.

The majority of all working-class individuals in the United States (as of 2013) do not hold a college degree. Does this surprise you? These people aren’t just delivering pizza or driving garbage trucks. In fact, 30% of these people earn more money than college grads. With diligence and dedication, it is very possible to have a rewarding career without spending all that money on tuition. Based on projected job growth and salary, here are the top five jobs that do not require a college degree:

#5 – Dry Wall Taper

wall taperIf you like to be on your feet and use your hands, this might be a good job for you. A dry wall taper prepares walls for paint after they have been installed. This vocation doesn’t require a high school diploma, an apprenticeship, or a technical degree. You can simply learn the trade from experienced workers. The construction industry is expected to grow as the economy improves. The average salary for a dry wall taper is $45,490. Keep in mind that you will be working in a construction environment and will have to deal with the elements, dangerous materials, and loud noises.

 #4 – Electrician

An electrician is someone humanity will always need, especially considering how technology is advancing. The average salary for these guys is $48,250. Electricians work in all types of buildings from private apartments to offices to stadiums. The more gadgets we develop, the more we need people who know how to fix them. Although you won’t need a college degree to be an electrician, you will need to go through an apprenticeship – but you get paid while you learn! Because you are working with electricity, there is always the rare danger of electrocution.

#3 – Commercial Pilot

If you’re not afraid of heights and have good eyesight, consider becoming a pilot. Although airlines have suffered recently, they are projected to add 6,900 jobs by 2020. The average salary for a commercial pilot is $67,500 (that’s $26,000 more than the average full-time employee). The only requirement for this profession is a commercial pilot’s license and some time at a local flight school. Although many airlines prefer pilots with two- or four-year degrees, it is very possible to become a respected commercial pilot with experience and a pilot’s license. The downside is that you will be away from home a lot as you bounce from city to city.

#2 – Brickmason/Blockmason

brick-masonThe average brickmason earns $46,930 each year. By 2020, the workforce is projected to grow by over 36,000 individuals. With our rapidly increasing population, there is always a need for new hospitals, schools, and homes. Brickmasons are craftsmen who work for construction contractors. Growing urban areas are where they see the most business. Brickmasons are expected to complete a paid apprenticeship lasting three or four years. They will also pick up skills on the job from more experienced workers. Just like any construction job, masons are exposed to the weather along with dangerous materials and loud noises. Make sure to wear your helmet!

#1 – Pile-Driver Operator

Are you a high school grad good with machines? Pile-driver operators make 19% more money than the US average. With on-the-job training, you can become a pile-driver operator in no time. The average salary for this profession is $47,860. In this job, you might work on oil rigs, cranes, barges, or skids. Using large machines, you will drive construction supports deep into the ground. If you’re interested in this job, look towards Louisiana and the Gulf Coast. Demand for pile-driver operators is expected to grow nearly three times the rate of all other US jobs in upcoming years. This job may be a little more dangerous than the average job, but if you like to use big machines and work outside, it might just be the perfect job for you.

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Health Insurance Tips for the Self-Employed

September 8, 2013

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self-employedBeing self-employed has lots of perks. You get to choose your own hours, hire whomever you want, and be your own boss. The downside is that your job doesn’t provide health insurance.  And if you own a small business, you’re probably too busy to even think about health insurance!

Most self-employed individuals just don’t have health insurance. The last thing you want is for a medical emergency to impede your flourishing new business. You need to have a backup plan in case of an emergency that involves you, your family, or injuries that may put your business at risk.

If you are currently uninsured and looking for health insurance, make sure to shop around first and consider all your options. Ask other business owners for advice. You can use the Internet to compare rates and find trusted licensed agents (like eHealthInsurance.com).

Assistance for workers who are retrenched or in career transition

If your self-employment stemmed from being laid off, there is another option available to you. COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act) is a federal program that allows individuals to temporarily extend the insurance they had through previous employment (at their own cost). The federal government offers a 65% subsidy for COBRA premiums, making this a great option for many. COBRA is most attractive to those with pre-existing medical conditions that make it hard for them to qualify for coverage in other programs.

Look out for rate guarantees and tax deductions

When you decide to buy private health insurance, remember that the insurance company may increase your monthly premiums once in awhile. To protect yourself from this trick, look for a “rate guarantee.” Licensed health insurance agents can give you advice on which company to use and help you understand all the little details. Some companies offer to lock in your rate for a certain period of time if you pay a “small fee” each month. Do the math before you sign to ensure that you are actually saving money.

Some states allow qualified self-employed individuals to deduct health insurance premiums on their federal tax returns. There are rules to follow – make sure to ask a tax professional if you have any questions. Remember that you can’t deduct any money during any period of time in which you were eligible to participate in a health insurance plan sponsored by another employer.  A tax professional can also teach you about all the different types of self-employment statuses in your state and the associated tax implications.

Health Savings Account

A Health Savings Account (HSA) is a good idea for many self-employed individuals. This account is set up with an HSA-eligible health insurance program. Compared to other plans, HSAs usually have high deductibles and low monthly premiums. With an HSA, you can deposit some of your pre-tax income into a savings account so that it can earn tax-free interest. You can use then that money to pay for medical expenses like copayments and deductibles. The money you don’t use builds up tax-free year by year.

No matter what type of health insurance you end up purchasing, make sure to speak with a health insurance agent and a tax professional so that you save as much money as possible. With a good health insurance program and peace of mind, you will have more time to focus on what’s really important: your business.

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Trends in Green Home Design

September 18, 2013

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When you opt for an eco-design home, you will not only be living up to your environmental ideals but saving yourself money too. Green homes incorporate renewable resources and concepts which reduce the amount of water and electricity you consume. With their environmentally friendly design, you are assured of reducing your family’s carbon footprint and ultimately, you will have more money in your wallet and in the bank.

RecyclingSelect eco-friendly door and window designs

Maybe there is an argument for a front door fitted with a glass window as it helps light up the entryway. However, this design also allows warmth from the interior to escape. Contrast this with a door made of environmentally friendly and recyclable wood (without a window) which keeps your house energy efficient at all times.

Homes without eco-friendly window designs lose, on average, about 30% of air conditioning and heating energy a month. As different climatic zones have different energy efficiency requirements, look for window designs with an Energy Star rating for your region.

 

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